Let’s talk about alternative medicine and how it affects or contributes to the medical industry and, of course, our society.
So what exactly is alternative medicine? Alternative medicine is a general term used for, basically, other methods or techniques for treating different health conditions that is not related to or is not the same as conventional medicine. Or as Wikipedia would put it, “is any practice claiming to heal that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine”.
Look at it this way, if modern medicine means going to your doctor for a monthly or annual check-up, drinking medicine when you get sick, or simply, following your doctor’s orders when you have a health condition, then alternative medicine means opting for a massage therapy, acupuncture, taking herbal medicine or using other alternative methods to treat your condition.
Before we talk about other things concerning alternative medicine, let’s first talk about where it came from. Alternative medicine has existed for thousands of years, especially the use of plants and other herbs for treatment. Most of the methods or approaches in alternative medicine came from the eastern parts of the world and is often practiced due to tradition and belief, just like in China where the mind is just as important as the body when it comes to completing the healing process. This attitude towards alternative medicine can also be witnessed in India.
And while Western countries do not consider alternative medicine as part of the medical field, little by little, they have started incorporating different alternative medicine methods in their treatments. The use of conventional medicine and alternative medicine in treating a patient is known as Complementary Medicine.
While alternative medicine is used to replace conventional medicine, complementary medicine on the other hand is used alongside conventional medicine for treatment. Although alternative and complementary medicine differ by how they are practiced, these two are basically the same in terms of methods, techniques and definition. People often refer to Complementary and Alternative Medicine as CAM.
According to kidshealth.org, Conventional medicine “is based on scientific knowledge of the body and uses treatments that have been proven effective through scientific research”, which simply means that doctors rely on their knowledge of how a body works and what methods should be used to treat it.
CAM on the other hand, “is based on the belief that a medical care provider has to treat the whole person — body, mind, and spirit”, that is mostly why it does not make use of certain methods like surgery when treating their patients.
However, despite the growing number of people who are willing to try CAM methods or therapies, there are still a lot about it that we do not know. Most of these methods have been proven to be effective, while there are also some that doesn’t work.
A lot of people who opt to use CAM are the ones with recurring health conditions or those that have existing health conditions that conventional medicine can not fully heal or treat.
People who often have muscle, back, joint pains and headaches use CAM with conventional medicine to relieve or prevent the symptoms of their health conditions from coming back.
Most of use prefer to use it because it is less or non-invasive as compared to conventional medicine. Since a lot of CAM methods only make use of medicinal herbs, oils, and different kinds of massages, a lot of people find it safer than conventional medicine.
Although individuals who often use these methods have health conditions, there are also those who use them to prevent diseases and those who want to live a healthier lifestyle. These individuals believe that CAM methods can improve one’s overall health without having to rely on conventional medicine all the time.
Believe it or not, home remedies, from aroma therapy to herbal supplements, are considered CAM. These and other methods of CAM like Yoga and massages are mostly used at home if not in establishments offering to teach or practice CAM methods.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or NCCAM has classified CAM methods into four main areas which are the following:
– Is an area that concerns natural extracts, herbal medicines and vitamins and specific types of food like those that contain Probiotics.
– This area covers the methods that makes use of the mind to help affect the body’s systems, functions and overall health. Some Examples of this area includes:
* Meditation – is a form of concentration that increases relaxation and helps you feel calm so you can improve your psychological balance or physical health, relieve stress, and cope with illnesses.
* Yoga – is a series of physical postures that involves breathing techniques and meditation as well. Yoga is often used as a form of workout or exercise but it can also be used to treat various health conditions.
* Acupuncture – makes use of needles that is placed in specific areas of the body. It originated in China and is still being practiced today.
– This area focuses mainly on the body’s structure, mainly the bones, joints, tissues and muscles. Alternative medicine methods under this area are massages and methods done by chiropractors.
– This area is based on the concept that the human body is infused with forms of energy.
Complementary and alternative medicine, just like conventional or mainstream medicine, covers a lot of areas other than the four main areas mentioned in this article, but CAM’s main focus is the ability of the individual to heal naturally and to improve one’s overall health, prevent disease and to maintain the balance between the mind, the body and the spirit. This is why it makes use of techniques and methods that are not only made to relieve symptoms or treat health conditions but to also to boost one’s attitude towards life.
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